Gather a dozen nutrition and fitness experts. Ask them what they recommend for pre- and post-workout snacks. If I know anything about health experts, you'll get about a dozen answers.
I always base my recommendations on science. Even then, certain topics invite debate. Among them: what to eat before and after a workout.
Before we discuss fuel, we need to discuss exercise. My philosophy is that working out should be intense. You should get hot and sweaty, and it might hurt a little.
Listen, I love when clients tell me they park their cars further from the mall doors or take the stairs. Movement counts, period. That said, I don't consider walking to be serious exercise. To me, walking is essential.
Real exercise involves intensity, whether that means short, all-out bursts of movement or challenging weight resistance to stimulate growth hormone, build muscle, better handle sugar and stress, burn fat, and boost your metabolism.
To get these benefits from exercise, you'll probably need to break a sweat and get out of your comfort zone.
What to Eat for Pre-Workout Food?
You need energy, of course, for vigorous exercise. You probably interpret energy as food, but you also have some energy stored in your muscles as glycogen. That's one reason you may or may not require pre-workout food. I recommend that you listen to your body.
Some people can work out well in the morning on an empty stomach. They go into the gym and maintain steady energy throughout their grueling workout. Others, like myself, do better with a protein and carb mini-meal - say, half a protein shake - rather than try to go full-throttle after 12 hours of fasting.
If working out on an empty stomach in the morning leaves you lagging for energy, have a protein shake or mini-meal. If you work out later in the day, I recommend working out two to three hours after a meal or one hour after a smaller snack.
What you don't want to do is eat a big meal or a high-fat snack before you workout. Give your body adequate time to digest food, so it can optimally fuel your muscles while you work out.
I should add that a cup of organic coffee makes great morning pre-workout fuel, especially if you're working out on an empty stomach. Just don't use caffeine as a crutch for poor sleep or underlying issues like adrenal fatigue.
What to Eat for Post-Workout Food?
I discussed intense exercise earlier for a reason: a vigorous workout burns a lot of sugar. But wait, you say. You want to burn fat, not sugar. Well, stay with me.
Intense exercise burns more sugar during exercise, and more fat and calories overall. Burst training and other rigorous exercise require more post-workout recovery.
After your workout your body looks to refuel those muscle stores (as glycogen), preferably as soon as possible. Muscle repair, also known as muscle protein re-synthesis, demands carbohydrates to refuel your muscle's energy stores and protein to help your muscles rebuild and recover.
When bodybuilders speak of a "magic window,” they’re talking about that first hour after their workouts where their bodies are most efficient at refueling their muscle stores.
When we work out vigorously, we all have that magic window.
You want to eat correctly, then, during that magic hour. This is especially critical for your next workout, since how you refuel after this workout will determine available energy for your next workout.
Essentially, then, your post-workout fuel - protein and carbs - will mimic what you had before your workout.
The one carbohydrate you absolutely should avoid is fructose, which will shut down post-exercise fat burning. (Come to think of it: just ditch fructose, period.) Don't finish your workout and then gulp an agave-sweetened smoothie or protein-enhanced fruit juice, which are full of fructose.
My favorite post-workout meal is a plant-based (but not soy) protein powder blended with low-sugar fruit (berries or cherries are perfect) and unsweetened coconut milk. If you have a post-workout meal, combine clean lean protein, slow-release high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats.
Original Post for Livestrong.com by JJ Virgin
The amount of people experiencing bad posture and back or knee pain is steadily increasing. Modern lifestyle increases the risk of muscle imbalances, bad posture, back pain, knee pain etc., and we are spending billions each year on pharmaceuticals to alleviate the pain. A minimal amount of proper training is a far better long-term option. One of the most common postural problems is lower crossed syndrome, also called excessive anterior pelvic tilt or lordosis.
LCS, lower crossed syndrome, is very common especially among females, and visual cues include a forward tipped pelvis, increased lower back curve (sway back) and a "bulging" (not necessarily fat) abdomen. Muscle imbalances are also present, but can be harder to spot by the average layman.
Sitting down for hours each day, often in a flexed position, leads to shortening of the hip flexors and increased tension on the lower back. A minimal amount of physical activity, genetic predispositions and imbalanced training are also major causes of LCS. The problems usually develop over time, and suddenly a daily activity, like tying the shoes, cause pain.
Reciprocal inhibition means that when muscles on one side of the joint are contracting, the muscles on the other side of the joint are relaxing. In LCS, the most important muscles include over-active and tight hip flexors and lower back muscles, and weak gluteals, abdominals and sometimes hamstrings. The strong muscles become over-active in daily chores, making the condition even worse.
LCS doesn't necessarily cause pain in itself, but leads to poor movement patterns, several muscle imbalances and increased susceptibility to knee and back pain. A forward head posture and upper crossed syndrome, another common condition, can also result from LCS.
Treating lower crossed syndrome
Postural training is an important part of treating LCS, and especially paying attention to sitting posture is vital. The training program should include exercises to strengthen the gluteals and the abdominals. Strengthening the obliques and sometimes hamstrings can also be beneficial. Muscles that need to be stretched include the hip flexors and lower back muscles.
People with LCS usually have difficulty performing proper squats and lunges, and in the beginning the emphasis should be to activate the gluteal muscles with exercises such as glute bridge, hip thrust, reverse hyperextension and quadruped hip extension. Start with no added weight, use perfect technique and strive to get proper contraction. When you progress you can slowly add weights and begin to experiment with other exercises.
Good starting exercises for the abdominals include reverse crunch and a properly performed plank.
Static or dynamic stretching of the hip flexors and lower back muscles is a good start for beginners.
Original post by Eric Hunter for naturalnews.com
Is all the hoopla about Greek yogurt justified? Just what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt? And is Greek Yogurt more nutritious? Read on, for some answers.
Both types of yogurt come from milk that has had healthy bacteria added, causing it to ferment. During this process, yogurt thickens and takes on a slightly tangy taste. Yogurt is then strained with a cheesecloth, which allows the liquid whey part of milk to drain off. Regular yogurt is strained twice, while Greek yogurt is strained three times to remove more whey (resulting in a thicker consistency at the end of this process).
This additional third straining step is what makes Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt in several important ways. Greek yogurt contains less whey, lactose, calcium, sodium and sugar than regular yogurt. A single serving of Greek yogurt averages around 50 milligrams of sodium -- that's about half the sodium contained in most brands of regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also contains roughly half the carbs as regular yogurt -- 5 to 8 grams per serving compared with 13 to 17 grams in regular yogurt. Because more liquid gets eliminated in the additional straining, producers need more milk to produce one cup of Greek yogurt than they require to produce one cup of regular yogurt.
Consequently, Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, because it is more concentrated. Greek yogurt actually contains almost double the protein of regular yogurt. Eight ounces (one cup) of Greek yogurt has about 17 grams of protein, compared to the 11 grams that regular yogurt provides. This makes Greek yogurt a great option for anyone trying to sneak in a little more protein into their diet. Also, because of its high protein content, Greek yogurt will help you stay full longer, which is key if you are trying to lose weight or maintain it.
Whether you eat it alone, with fruit or enjoy it as a treat or dessert instead of ice cream, Greek yogurt is most definitely a healthful choice - and for me, one that always wins over regular yogurt.
Original post by Amanda Russell from livestrong.com
Short, grey days and cold weather are generally enough to drive even the most optimistic of us into a bit of a funk. But if you’re an avid exerciser who can’t get in your regular workout because of bad weather, the stress and rush of the holiday season can really throw you off your game. These frustrating bouts of sadness and moodiness are known, informally, as “the winter blues.”
For some, these mood shifts can be much more serious, and account for a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Unlike the winter blues, SAD can occur during any season, and include much more severe symptoms. Since SAD can be related to hormone imbalances and may require prescription medication, it’s important to work with your doctor if you’re experiencing severe depression.
The good news: for both SAD and the milder winter blues, there is strong evidence that simple changes in diet and regular exercise can help you endure these seasonal mood swings until the sun shines again.
Work It Out
Especially during the colder months, exercising can be difficult if your energy levels are low to begin with and the weather makes it difficult to get outside. Focusing on the benefits you can expect to reap from exercise, though, will encourage you to get yourself up and moving.
The American Council on Exercise recommends remembering your past successes and setting clear goals to keep you moving. Joining a class or finding a workout buddy will help you stay focused.
Thinking in terms of “activity” rather than exercise may also help. Look for opportunities to inject some added activity into your day: take the stairs, skip the shortcuts and turn some of your household chores into workouts.
Simply taking brisk walks outdoors can go a long way toward improving your mood. The sunlight is directly responsible for production of serotonin and melatonin, two mood-regulating hormones. Any exercise will increase the release of several endorphins which can help improve your mood, help you sleep and regulate your appetite.
Specifically, cardiovascular exercise and mindful exercises like yoga and Pilates can be especially useful. Because these workout modes help you focus on your breathing and heart rate, they help to modify your stress response, and consequently fight depression.
Depression can increase your cravings for simple carbohydrates, which absorb quickly into your body but also cause a crash in blood sugar. And since fatty, starchy treats are easy to come by during the holiday season, it’s important to pay particular attention to how you’re eating in order to avoid SAD symptoms.
Stock up on complex carbs, which can give you the same serotonin boost as their simpler cousins, but keep your blood sugar steady and balanced. This would include foods that contain whole-wheats and oats, like whole grain breads, bran muffins, brown rice and oatmeal.
Since seasonal depression, in most cases, is related to reduced exposure to sunlight, researchers have examined the impact of vitamin D, which is produced by sunlight, on depression. The research is still inconclusive but promising enough to spur more studies. While fortified foods, like milk and cereal, have vitamin D added, very few foods contain it naturally.
Two foods that do provide vitamin D are salmon and tuna. These fatty fish are also rich in omega-3s, which have shown potential in several studies for improving mood and brain function. If you don’t enjoy fish and choose to supplement, though, try to select a supplement that is particularly high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), since this variety of omega-3 is thought to be the most effective.
These small changes in your activity and diet could help you improve your mood and get you through your bout with seasonal depression.
Original Post Jonathon Thompson for Livestrong.com
Make the most of seasonal produce
The winter season provides a wonderful opportunity to embrace seasonal produce – try pomegranates, cranberries, citrus fruits, purple grapes and orange root vegetables. You’ll be sure to consume lots of antioxidants for the winter months.
Embrace home cooking
Why not use the longer evenings to try out new meal ideas and practice your cooking skills? Use the extra time you are indoors to try a new recipe, or add some new ingredients to an old favourite.
Reassess your Vitamin D
A deficiency of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, is common in people living with HIV, particularly in the winter months since the body is unable to synthesis this nutrient from sun exposure. Since food sources alone are often inadequate, you may want to consider supplements of this vitamin. Choose vitamin D3, the active form of the nutrient and be sure to speak to your doctor.
Avoid holiday binging
While a bit of indulgence is expected, high intakes of refined sugar and alcohol can not only lead to weight gain, but also depress your immune system. Avoid an all-or nothing attitude – holiday indulging doesn’t have to mean holiday binging!
Eat for immunity
An easy way to take care of your immune system is to ensure you consume vitamin C rich foods every day. The best food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and their juices (like oranges and grapefruit), kiwis, mangos, strawberries, sweet peppers, and broccoli.
It’s natural to change your eating habits with the seasons. Even if you make some less nutritious choices over the winter, remember that good health is a result of your overall eating pattern and every next meal is a new opportunity to nourish your body.
Original post by Jen MacPherson for Positive Living BC
We're going to address one of the most neglected and important areas of the body: the shoulder joint.
Overuse can occur through repetitive motions, as in swimming, or in static overuse -- for example, the position held on a bike. What's the result? Tight anterior and weak posterior musculature creates imbalances, poor posture, discomfort and possibly injury. This area needs to be trained and maintained to avoid these issues, promote good posture and solidify your performance.
There's so much information related to form and function of the shoulder that three-time World Ironman Champion Peter Reid would have no trouble finishing Ironman Hawaii twice, and recover completely from both, before we could even scratch the surface of relevant information.
So, in order to keep you awake and interested, we'll address one of the most common faulty upper body imbalances, along with shoulder joint integrity.
What is upper cross syndrome?
Although you may not be familiar with the term upper cross syndrome (UCS) you've probably seen it. All of us have seen that little old lady who's standing up, but appears to be falling over; her head shifted forward, shoulders rounded, and her upper back between the shoulder blades looks like the head of a cobra poised to strike.
Now, just so you don't think we're picking on the elderly, the same condition can exist in the young. Picture the gym rat that does 10 sets of 10 with 225 lbs, three days a week, year after year. Eventually he too will develop the same condition as the little old lady.
Both examples are a result of muscular imbalances between the flexors and extensors of the upper torso and regardless of age, if you suffer from these imbalances you'll have a higher risk of injury and will be less efficient in your training and racing.
How do you develop UCS?
UCS is simply the weakening and lengthening of the posterior upper-back and neck musculature, and the tightening and shortening of the anterior and opposing musculature. Remember your mom telling you to stand up straight? Well, poor posture, such as slumping over a computer or slouching, contribute to UCS.
If someone with UCS swims, bikes, or runs, it will exacerbate the faulty mechanics and cause excessive wear to the skeletal system, muscles, and tendons and ligaments. Additionally, UCS will also hinder performance by depressing the sternum; meaning you can't breathe, which is rather important for endurance athletes!
How do you correct it?
You can correct UCS by strengthening what's weak and stretching what's tight. Let's discuss the muscles that make up the rotator cuff and their function and relevancy to the stability of your shoulders and posture.
The shoulder allows for a great amount of mobility, at the sacrifice of stability, which is why you must be forever vigilant and adhere to the commandments of shoulder stability.
Commandment 1: Know thy structure. Unlike the hip joint, which has the protection of surrounding bone to help stabilization, the shoulder heavily depends on four small muscles, ligaments and tendons to establish joint integrity. The muscles are: the subscapularis, teres minor, suraspinatus, and the infraspinatus. The stabilizing ligaments are the glenohumeral, coracohumeral, and the transverse humeral ligaments.
Commandment 2: Know thy movements. Shoulder movements include abduction, adduction, lateral and medial rotation, flexion, extension, and circumduction (combination of these movements). Because of the mobility of the shoulder, exercise selection must encompass all of these movements through a safe and full range of motion, which we'll cover shortly.
Commandment 3: Know thy anchor. Shoulder movement and the four muscles that perform stability are anchored to the scapula, so you must stabilize the scapula to further establish joint integrity.
The major players are the levator scapulae, upper trapezius, and rhomboid major and minor. You use your lower trapezius and the serratus to lift your scapula, and your latissiumus dorsi, pectoralis major and minor, and subclavius to lower it.
Exercises that strengthen the upper back and the back of the shoulder will help prevent and correct this problem. External shoulder rotation, rows, pulldowns or pull up, and back flies are all examples of great preventative and rehabilitative exercise.
If you’ve tried to drop weight, get leaner and reduce body fat in the past only to fall short of your goal and fail to see the results you desire then chances are you have been a victim of one or more of these 3 most common mistakes when trying to lose fat…
Mistake 1: The starvation approach. It’s true that in order to lose fat you need to reduce your calorie intake somewhat, however an extreme diet and taking your calories too low can actually cause your body to slow down the rate at which your body burns energy (calories) and results in your body holding onto the fat you are trying to burn. Not all calories are created equal.
Instead, focus on quality over quantity and consuming the right kind of calories and avoiding the empty calories that offer little or no nutritional value. Then focus on burning more and raising your metabolism through structured intense progressive exercise.
Mistake 2: Too much cardio. Cardiovascular exercise is very useful when trying to burn fat, however when overused or simply done in an ineffective way (as most people do) you actually end up burning more muscle tissue than body fat. This may cause you to lose weight on the scales but it’s not quality weight loss and it’s not fat loss.
Instead try structuring your cardiovascular exercise in a way that elevates your metabolism and ensures maximum fat loss. The best way to do this is with short durational burst of high intensity exercise followed by a lower intensity rest period and then repeated for a certain number of repetitions.
Mistake 3: Avoiding Training with Weights. Most people when trying to drop weight and lose fat avoid lifting weights and resistance training altogether, when the truth is that progressive and structured resistance training is the number one way to increase and raise your Resting Metabolic Rate and the total amount of calories that your body burns per day.
Instead try to schedule 2-4 resistance training sessions into your workout week and this will ensure you are increasing your Lean Muscle Tissue which will result in your body burning more calories and more fat 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, even while you sleep!
Original Post: zerogravityfitness.com
1. Not following proper movement progression
Too many people attempt exercises they and their bodies are not prepared to properly execute.
Area of risk: The most common area at risk is usually the back. For example: The kettlebell swing shouldn’t be performed until the deadlift is mastered.
How to avoid: Be patient with your training and progress slowly. Take up sessions with a coach or trainer to develop a solid, progressive plan.
2. Not maintaining a neutral spine
A neutral spine establishes the correct alignment of the athlete. This must be kept in mind when performing swings, high pulls, clean or snatch.
Area of risk: The entire spine and surrounding musculature.
How to avoid: Keep a straight line from your hips to your head. You should be able to lay a broomstick along the entire spine.
3. Taking too wide a stance
All stances are not created equal. Overly extended stances during swings leave several areas vulnerable to injury.
Area of risk: Hips, knees and lower back.
How to avoid: Take an athletic stance. An athletic stance can be defined as a stance out of which you would jump.
4. Muscling the bell with the upper body
Overemphasis of upper body muscles during ballistic movements deteriorates exercise flow and can place strain on vulnerable areas.
Area of risk: Neck, shoulders, lower back.
How to avoid: Relax the upper body, use a hip snap and lock the knees out with each rep.
5. Training to muscle failure
Training to failure with kettlebells is asking for trouble.
Area of risk: Whatever area you push to failure is at risk. Form will suffer and lead to injury.
How to avoid: Stop several reps short of failure.
6. Attempting to rescue a bad repetition
If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it’s not. Stop and put the bell down before paying the price.
Area of risk: Primarily the lower back.
How to avoid: Don’t try to force reps. Be conscious of your form and the quality of the reps.
7. Trying to get too fancy
Attempting to invent new movements outside of the basics don’t provide a reward worth the risk.
Area of risk: Mostly spine, but many things can go wrong when you do wacky things with a kettlebell
How to avoid: Stick to the basics. They work the best.
8. Using too tight a grip
Death gripping bells are pointless and dangerous with kettlebell ballistic movements.
Area of risk: Hands and elbows.
How to avoid: Relax your grip and hold the bell in the hook of the fingers rather than the meat of the hand.
9. Smashing the forearms
Kettlebell cleans and snatches change the bell’s position during a movement—stay in control of the motion so the bell doesn’t fall down and smash into your forearms.
Area of risk: Lower and upper arms.
How to avoid: Punch the kettlebell upwards instead of swinging it while relaxing the grip and allowing the bell to gently catch against your forearm.
10. Wearing Improper footwear
Running shoes are for running, not for kettlebells.
Area of risk: Running shoes raise the heel and can push the knee forward during squats or swing which could possibly contribute to knee injury.
How to avoid: Train in flat soled shoes or even go barefoot—you’ll be more stable.
Originally Published at http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/10-dangerous-kettlebell-mistakes
I must confess that in the past, I was guilty of ignoring the telltale signs of the Cancer Metabolism Syndrome until my body stopped me dead in my tracks. Please share this with the women that you love and care about. Prevention is so much easier than healing a cancer.
Think of your body as a garden that has a terrain or “soil”. If you nourish the soil with good water, sunshine, specific nutrients and lots of TLC, the chances of weeds popping up and taking over the garden are quite slim. Think of cancer cells like weeds that pop up in your garden. If you are being attentive and the terrain is healthy, the weeds will picked off and eliminated before they have a chance to propagate.
Dr. Jean Wallace, a prominent expert in Nutritional Oncology, has coined a term called the “Onco-metabolic Syndrome”. “This is a cluster of nutritional and metabolic factors that can influence the growth and progression of cancer.” There are several factors that can influence the growth or death of cancer cells in the body.
You have control over these 5 factors. In fact, every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding your body or feeding the cancer. You get to choose.
1.) High Blood Sugar
In my opinion, sugar is the top cancer trigger. Early in the 1930’s it was discovered that cancer cells do not use oxygen to survive – they use sugar. A study conducted in a mouse model with Breast Cancer clearly showed the negative impact that high blood sugar had on survival rate. The higher the blood sugar, the lower the immunity and increased death rate. Obesity and Type 2 diabetes have been identified as risk factors for Breast Cancer with a poor prognosis and survival rate.
2.) Increased Estrogen Levels
For men and women alike, high estrogen levels can trigger cancer. There are so many environmental and chemical estrogens that we can be exposed to if we do not make conscious choices to eat clean and live clean. The liver’s ability to break down and expel the aggressive estrogens is key to metabolizing estrogens properly. To determine your estrogen levels, there are simple saliva and urine tests that can be done in the privacy of your home.
3.) Compromised Immune System
If your body is loaded with pathogens like bacteria, yeasts, parasites and /or viruses, your Immune System will be so preoccupied that the cancer cells can easily start multiplying. Stress is a major factor in weakening your Immune System.
4.) Nutrient Deficiencies
There are specific mineral and vitamin deficiencies that play a significant role in the growth of cancer in the body. According to the Anti Cancer Research Group, “Magnesium deficiency is carcinogenic.” Trace minerals like zinc and selenium are important for a healthy Immune System and detoxification pathways. Every client that I have worked with in the last 18 months has been deficient in Iodine and Vitamin D.
Inflammation in the body is the result of poor dietary choices and a stressed lifestyle. Most polyunsaturated oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy are high in Omega 6’s which are pro-inflammatory. High carb diets, commercial dairy and meats can also cause inflammation. High stress levels and exposure to environmental chemicals can also contribute to inflammation. By-products of inflammation stimulate tumor growth and suppress the Immune System. Original Post from: Breast Cancer Conqueror
We are all told over and over again about the importance of proper form during exercise, yet when an exercise feels off (or outright wrong) we are often encouraged by our trainers/instructors to keep going. This can seem rather contradictory, but there is a method to this madness.
First I’d like to point out that everything takes practise. Just think of professional athletics or dancers. It takes years, if not a decades, to master technique and achieve the optimal level of strength and flexibility. The lesson here is that you can’t expect perfection on your first try (and maybe not even on your tenth). First attempts may feel awkward and awful. What is important, is that you focus on the right muscles, and attentively listen to your instructor’s cues and corrections. Barring any sharp pains, or extreme strain on your back and/or neck, you are most likely safe to continue the exercise. Achieving proper exercise form takes patience and practise, just like everything else in life.
Our bodies carry many imbalances. This means you may not always feel an exercise in the area you are supposed to (even if your form appears to be correct). Most exercises have primary mover(s), secondary mover(s) and stabilizer(s). For clarity lets take a look at push ups. The primary movers for this exercise are the pectoral muscles (chest).Your triceps, deltoids, and core are also active. It is normal to feel the exercise predominantely in one of these secondary and/or stabilizing areas if they are weak. When you focus on proper form, the gaps in strength will begin to narrow and you will eventually achieve that “Ah Ha!” moment; that moment when the exercise finally feels right.
Limitations in flexibility and range of motion will influence the ability to do an exercise correctly. For example, if the shoulder is restricted it becomes taxing to do a proper shoulder press; it’s a struggle to get the arm straight and right beside the ear, even with a light weight. While increased stretching is an obvious solution to this problem, practising the exercise will also increase your range of motion. It is important to note that restriction in movements may not always be related to limitations in flexibility. Strength imbalances may also play a role. Going back to the shoulder press example. If the lateral and posterior portion of the deltoids, along with other muscles in the rotator cuff are weak, the shoulder range of motion may be compromised.
Your level of fatigue will also influence your ability to perform an exercise correctly. Needless to say, the deeper you are into your workout, the more balance and coordination suffers. This does not mean you should stop! This is exactly how you build muscular endurance and reinforce proper movement patterns (if you are concentrating on proper form). Fatigue will also affect which muscle groups feel the most intensity. It is normal to feel an exercise in “strange” areas when you are tired. For example, if you have done a series of intensive leg exercises, prior to doing a TRX plank, you may feel your quads working harder than your core.
Keeping these points in mind, here are some tips to help improve your exercise form.
1) Concentrate on the proper muscles groups. It takes time and practise to learn to engage the right muscles. When you focus on the correct muscles groups you are beginning to create the mind-body connection (neural pathways), that will allow you to achieve proper form.
2) Listen to your body. Pay attention to what muscles are working, which ones are relaxed, and if you feel any excessive strain or pain (especially in the lower back or neck). Practise does make perfect but if an exercise is “too difficult” it may be time to stop. Imbalances, limitations in range of motion, injuries, or level of fitness may severely impair your ability to perform a particular exercises. This does not mean that you will not be able to do it in the future, but until the underlying issues are sorted you may be better off doing alternate or modified exercises.
3) Don’t be scared to ask questions! Instructors are always happy to help their students improve. Sometimes an additional cue can make all the difference. A fitness professional may also be able to offer alternatives or exercise modifications if something is not working for you.
If you’re still not clear or you still feel uncomfortable it may be worth working one-on-one with a trainer (even if its just for a session or two). More complex, multi-joint movements may take some extra instruction. If you’re new to a particular form of exercise a little one-on-one attention may be exactly what you need to get you started, keep you injury free, and keep you motivated.
4) Get your imbalances, range of motion, and injuries assessed by a physiotherapist. Education and awareness of your current weakness and limitations goes a long way! When you understand your body, learn how to engage the correct muscles, know where and why you are weak and/or restricted you will get the most out of your workouts and prevent future injury.
The other day I heard someone tell me that, “Pilates has changed my life.” This inspired me to write about why this form of exercise is so effective.
While most of us can list some of the benefits of Pilates, it can be difficult to pinpoint what make this form of exercise different from any other, especially when comparing it to other popular low impact practices. I’ve outlined 3 facets of Pilates that are highly emphasized and continuously re-enforced. While none of these are unique to any form of exercise, the level of focus in which Pilates places on these is rather distinct.
1) Awareness and Control
It’s surprising how little awareness and control most people have over their own bodies. While many of us do not notice this in our day-to-day lives, it becomes all too apparent when exercising. For example, when asked to do an exercise for the abdominals we feel it in the lower back and/or hip flexors instead. Not surprisingly, a lack of body awareness and control lead to a milieu of acute and chronic pains. These injuries often appear out of nowhere, without a distinct identifiable cause.
One aspect that makes Pilates rather unique is its focus on educating body awareness and control, resulting in efficient and effective biomechanics. This practise is based on a deep understanding of anatomy and muscular systems, and enforces functional movement patterns. This is done through proper cueing, as well as particular exercise sequencing and progressions. The beauty of this practise is that the awareness and control built in class begins to translate into daily life, changing the way you move; slowly breaking down dysfunctional biomechanical patterns.
2) Posture and Core Stability
While the goal of Pilates is an increase in overall fitness, there is an overwhelming concentration on core strength and stability, as well as posture. This is key to its pre-hab/rehab success. The spine supports a large portion of our body weight, and comes under huge strain throughout the day. It is also our nerve center, enclosing both the sensory and motor nerves that travel throughout our body. Without proper muscular support, compression and mal-alignment are inevitable. This eventually results in pain, restriction and/or dysfunction, both locally and in the extremities. An emphasis on core (abdominal and back) strengthening and stabilizing exercises, as well as postural awareness, helps mobilize and re-align the spine. This results in a reduction, and potentially elimination, of pain and injury in the neck and back, as well as throughout the body.
As a holistic discipline, Pilates also focuses on elongating our muscles. The importance of maintaining optimal muscle length and range of motion should not be overlooked. Stretching helps increase circulation, prevent chronic and acute injuries, and helps build maximum strength in the muscle. Most significantly, it promotes proper body mechanics and alignment.
To sum it up, Pilates is designed to restore the body to its natural balance and alignment. There is a strong focus on achieving a level of awareness and mastery over the body, in addition to an emphasis on core stability, posture, and flexibility. This low impact, holistic form of exercise can be beneficial regardless of age and/or ability, aids in the rehabilitation of both chronic and acute pains, and helps prevent future injuries.
It feels like every week you hear about a new health trend, superfood, diet or must-have supplement. While some things you read about may hold value, it can be difficult to figure out how to apply this new found knowledge and whether it actually applies to you. Unfortunately there is also a lot of information floating around that is contradictory, poorly researched, or (for a lack of a better word) bullshit. For those of you who are tired of jumping from one health trend bandwagon to the next, this is for you.
I decided to identify some of the key trends in the eating habits of one of the most healthy populations in the world, Japan. First, here are some states:
The Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world, with the average person expected to live to 83, and many living well into their 90s. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization, the Japanese can anticipate to live 75 healthy and disability-free years. They also enjoy the lowest obesity rate in the developed world, at only 3%.
Here are some food trends, that attribute this population’s health and slim physique. The best part is you don’t have to love Japanese food to be able to apply these to your life.
1) Eat with your eyes
It’s all about small portions, small plates, and delicious, satisfying foods. People eat approximately 45% more when served larger portions. Opt for smaller meals and seek variety. I like to compare this to tapas. Tapas is all about having many small dishes and taking a few bites of each. This slows you down and tricks the brain into believing you ate a large meal, leaving you full and satisfied.
2) Avoid high density foods
The Japanese are known for filling up on fruits, veggies and broth-based soups. It’s not unusual to have four or five different varieties of vegetables in one meal. Nor is it frowned upon to have salad or soup for breakfast. Maintaining a maximum amount of nutrients is key in. Veggies are often seasoned in broth, stir-fried in a small amounts of vegetable oil, or lightly steamed. While the Japanese enjoy typical North American deserts, such as ice cream, it is much more common to serve an assortment of fresh fruits.
3) Protein without the Saturated Fat
It should come as no shock that the Japanese are crazy about fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herrings. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of heart-health and mood-boosting benefits.
Products rich in soy, such as tofu, edemame beans and miso soup, are also quite popular in Japan. In moderation these foods are a great source of protein with little or no saturated fats.
4) Green Tea
In Japan it is common to finish off your meal with green tea. The benefits are numerous; it increases your metabolism, helps regulate glucose levels, reduces bad cholesterol, regulates blood pressure, and influences your immunity.
When you put it all together it’s all rather simple. You don’t have to cut out entire food groups, nor invest in expensive suppliments or hard to find groceries. It is all about eating a variety of foods, indulging in fruits, veggies and other low density foods, reducing your portion sizes, sticking to proteins with low or no saturated fats, and having a brew with your meals.
When life gets busy it’s easy to slowly let our exercise routine fall apart. It can be difficult to juggle work, a family life, and social activities, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately this is when it’s most important to stay fit. Exercise aids in stress management, helps with concentration, and gives us the boost of energy we need. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years that may help you stay on track.
1. Schedule your workouts ahead of time.This forces you to take a look at all the variables. What does your work week look like? Do you foresee a particularly stressful day? Do you have any important appointments coming up? Are you planning to go on a date or have dinner with friends? What is the weather going to be like? Whether you workout on your own, attend classes or see a trainer it’s important to figure out a realistic schedule. This enforces a level of commitment.
2. Figure out what your priorities are.
For most of us exercise does not rank number one on our priorities list. For example, if your co-workers asked you to come out for dinner and drinks after work, would you stay committed to your plan to workout or would you ditch? While many of us would not like to admit it, we would ditch. This is something we shouldn’t necessarily be ashamed of, but we do need to know what takes precedence. Some things are obvious, such as work and various family commitments. Other things, we may have to do a little soul searching for. When you know what may cause you to flake, it’s easier to create a schedule that does not allow you to do so. Going back to the example above, if you know you have frequent last minute social events, morning work outs may be your best option.
3. Be prepared!
Keep an extra pair of workout clothes and runners in your car or at work.
We all have days when we have trouble getting ourselves together in the morning. This can cause us to forget things. This little tip ensures you don’t let something silly, like forgetting to pack a change of clothes, stop you for hitting the gym.Pack a nutritious lunch and snacks.
Your food is your fuel. When you are always on the go, your days can seem draining enough. Don’t let your eating habits bring you down as well. This is important whether you work out in the morning, during your lunch hour or after work. Without proper nutrition you will begin to feel sluggish and fatigued affecting your work, social and family life, as well as your ability to exercise.4. Make time for rest!
Everyone needs an evening or day to themselves to simply relax. Without this we eventually burn out. Often your workouts are the first to suffer in this situation. Make sure you give yourself some time to relax. If this means you can only do yoga twice a week rather than 3, so be it. While we all wish we can exercise 5 – 6 times a week, this may not be realistic. In some cases it may be better to workout less frequently but stay committed long term. There is nothing more discouraging than burning out a few weeks in and completely give up.5. Pick activities you enjoy.
There are benefits to each and every type of exercise you choose. If you hate yoga, don’t do it. You will never stick to something that you need to force yourself to do, especially when you’re already short on time. Find activities that match your health and fitness goals but you can still enjoy. This may take a bit of creativity and some trial and error.The best way to stay on track is to not put yourself into a situation where it is easy to make excuses. When you enjoy your workouts, they fit into your schedule and you’re prepared, barring any sort of last minute emergency, it is tough to find a reason not to exercise.
It's that time again! The summer is coming to a close and parents and children have started to prepare for another school year. This time of year can certainly be overwhelming. Between shopping for books, pens, clothes and new technology, the average family is very busy. However, it's important not to forget about health during this time of year.
Originally posted on the Hemocode blog.
I can always tell when I meet people in the honeymoon phase of eating healthy. They feel great and have lots of nutritional advice to give out. But over time their passion seems to fade and they often go back to old habits.
Because it is a lot harder to stay in love than it is too fall in love. That’s why I’ve compiled 5 ways people can stay on track with healthy eating.
1. Focus on how you feel: Too often people focus on the scale to “measure” their happiness. The problem is eventually weight loss slows or stops, and that can discourage people from continuing healthy habits. So focus on how eating well makes you feel every day. And if the food you are eating isn’t satisfying, make sure it is.
2. Allow foods you love: When clients would come see me they always would start with their weakness. I would hear things like “my weakness is potatoes.” I always tell them it’s not a weakness but a preference. If they continue to fight that food it only grows in power. So make room for foods you love in sensible ways and it will enhance your diet, not wreck it.
3. Consider what’s weighing you down: If you constantly stop and start healthy eating plans, it’s likely something else is weighing you down. It could be that you have trouble saying no and life gets too stressful or your relationship with food needs work. So do some investigative work and deal with what is causing the erratic eating habits in the first place.
4. Stay creative in the kitchen: No one likes to eat the same food day after day. Make sure you are working on food that is satisfying and nutritious. Don’t settle for less.
5. Change with life: If you are used to working out mornings but your new job doesn’t allow for it or you find that you are grabbing fast food because of your child’s new sports schedule, make adjustments based on how life changes. I often see people give up when all they need to do is change things up a bit — work out at lunch, use their slow cooker for dinner meals or hit the sack earlier.
A healthy lifestyle is not a destination but a journey, with dips, turns and unexpected challenges. When dealt with appropriately, what starts as puppy love will grow into a lifelong, rewarding relationship.
How do you stay on track with healthy eating?
By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
Re-post from WebMD
Recent research by Dr. Stuart McGill on spinal health and Suspension Training suggests that TRX training truly does deliver on the motto “All Core, All the Time.” In part one of this three-part series, we take a look at research that examines the amount of core-muscle activation for certain movements on a TRX Suspension Trainer versus using a stable surface and other implements or bodyweight resistance to perform similar exercises.
Using EMG to measure the activation of the musculoskeletal system, as well as 3-D reconstruction and modeling, researchers took measurements from a total of 34 pushing, pulling and core exercises, performed for three reps each. For example, they could measure which muscles were used and how hard they were working while performing a regular push-up on the ground versus a push-up on a Suspension Trainer.
Their findings show that exercises on the Suspension Trainer require more muscular activation across the entire body. “In general, the instability associated with the TRX training system required greater torso muscle activity to maintain a straight body position,” says the study.
Here’s what it means for your training: Using a Suspension Trainer to perform bodyweight exercises that involve pushing or pulling--like a pull-up, push-up or row--requires a greater, total-body effort than performing these same exercises using a fixed bar or the ground. The instability of the Suspension Trainer forces you to brace your core, glutes and lower back in order to create the leverage necessary to perform the movement. The Suspension Trainer really does enable training that’s all core, all the time.
Repost from: trxtraining.com
Core stability or core strength is a common buzz phrase in the fitness and exercise world. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts. Most people believe that core = abs. Therefore, they believe that any exercise that strengthens our abdominals is a “core” exercise.
To truly understand what core stability is and to know what exercises are good for our core, we have to understand the concept a little better.
Core stability is the ability to stabilize the body statically and during movement. For example, the ideal movement in forward bending would use hip motion as the primary rotation center, with a stable spine.
Traditional abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups and crunches, certainly fatigue the abdominal muscles, and can strengthen them. However, these movements involve active spinal bending which has two unwanted and little-known side effects.
Firstly, the center of rotation becomes the spine, with the hips becoming the stable region. This creates a faulty movement pattern that can set up low back pain. It is also a very destructive movement for your posture. Picture someone halfway through the crunch motion. It’s a prime example of poor posture! The head protracts forward and the upper back and shoulders are significantly rounded. The problem with this is, as we become stronger with this movement, our body is able to reproduce the movement with greater ease. We get better at adopting bad posture.
Secondly, the active flexion of the low back has been shown to put significant stress on the discs of the lumbar spine and can lead to herniations. So an exercise that someone may perform to prevent or address low back pain, may in fact be the cause of further low back injury.
Better choices for core stability training involve teaching the body to statically stabilize in a neutral spine posture. To begin, you have to understand a basic function of the deep abdominal muscles, the transversus abdominis (TA). Rather than creating tension in your outer abdominals, the TA compresses your abdomen by drawing in and holding your pelvis and spine stable. You can practice contracting this muscle by laying on your stomach, placing one hand under your bellybutton, and drawing your abdomen in, off your hand, without holding your breath, or sucking in air.
A basic plank is a great exercise to strengthen the abdominals and maintain neutral spine. Start by kneeling down with your forearms flat on the floor. Setup is the most important part of this exercise. To find your neutral spine position, gently arch your lower back down, then flex your lower back up, finally bringing your spine halfway between the two movements. If you look in a mirror, your spine should be very straight or neutral. You must maintain this position as you step back onto the balls of your feet and hold for as long as you can, up to one or two minutes.
For more core tips book an appointment today!
Repost - PhysioMed Heath Tips - By Dr. Jason Lemieux
Many people eat the same few meals every day. This is often seen as easier and more convenient than eating a number of different foods. However, it may not be a great strategy when it comes to your health. You should eat a variety of different foods in order to keep your body happy and healthy. There are a number of reasons why.
Nutrients & Vitamins
Your body needs nutrients in order function and grow. However, you can't get all of the nutrients and vitamins you need from a single food. Different foods contain different types and amounts of nutrients. In order to get all of the nutrients that you need, it's important to eat the right amounts of the right foods and it's important to eat many different foods.
Getting the right nutrients often means ensuring that you eat adequate amounts of food from each food group. However, it also means that you should eat a variety of different foods from within each food group. By eating a wide variety of different foods from each group (fruits & vegetables, oils & fats, grain products, meat & alternatives and milk & alternatives) in the right amounts, you will ensure that you stay healthy and that you get all of the vitamins and nutrients that you need.
Eating the same few foods regularly may trigger a food intolerance. Overconsumption of certain foods can have a tendency to overload your immune system. In these cases, your body could get tired of such a repetitive diet and react by rejecting the foods that you are eating frequently. If you feel unwell and are unsure of the reasons why, you could have a food intolerance. The HEMOCODE™ Food Intolerance System can help you figure out which foods may be making you feel unwell and also provide you with tools to help you get on your way to nutritional and dietary wellness.
Originally posted on the Hemocode blog. Written by Dr. Mubina Jiwa, ND
Do you find yourself struggling to stay awake during the last few hours of your workday? Is it often tough to focus or concentrate? Are you unable to get a full night of restful sleep no matter what you do? Or are you sleeping all night but still tired when you wake up?
There are a number of reasons why a person could feel tired on a regular basis. Some are due to medical conditions that should be looked at by a medical professional, but many of them are due to lifestyle and the foods that a person eats... or doesn't eat.
The food that you eat can certainly make you feel tired.
If you have a food intolerance, you could end up feeling tired. With some digestive food intolerances, your body is unable to properly digest, absorb or process the foods you eat. This means that you may not be getting all of the nutrients that your body needs. In addition, fatigue is often a symptom of a food intolerance. If you are eating a healthy diet and still feeling tired or unwell, you may wish to give the HEMOCODE™ Food Intolerance System a try. It can help you identify specific food intolerances and find relief.
There are other ways in which your diet can make you feel tired. If you frequently skip meals, you may not be fueling your body enough to keep you awake and alert throughout the day. If you're eating, but you're skipping out on a certain food group, you may also feel sluggish. Remember that your body requires carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein and a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins in order to function properly. If you're missing out on any of these aspects of your diet, you may feel sluggish or unwell.
Eating a large amount of processed food can hurt you for the same reason. These foods are often lacking many important nutritional elements.
Failing to eat enough vegetables and fruits is one reason why many people are frequently tired. These foods contain a wide variety of important vitamins and nutrients, so you should make sure to eat a number of different fruits and vegetables each day. If you feel fatigued or if it is difficult for you to concentrate, you may also be missing out on water. It's very important to stay hydrated, no matter the season or the weather. Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration, so you should always make sure that you drink enough water. This is especially true if you are in hot weather, exercising or both.
INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT IF YOUR INTOLERANCES ARE SLOWING YOU DOWN?
Originally posted on the Hemocode blog. Written by Dr. Mubina Jiwa, ND
Our team of practitioners will asses your condition and devise an interdisciplinary treatment plan that draws on the benefits of a number of treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy. Your treatment may also include the use of specialty equipment such as Shockwave therapy or vibration therapy.
We'll also focus your treatment on strengthening the muscles used in your sport, and improving the flexibility and stability of your joints. Through clinical conditioning exercises and sport specific conditioning, many Physiomed patients perform better in their sport than before they were injured.
Blog information provided by PhysioMed.